A young woman, Poppy, out for excitement in Shanghai, enters a gambling house owned by "Mother" Gin Sling, a dragon-lady who worked herself up from poverty to buy the casino. Sir Guy ... See full summary »
Josef von Sternberg directed, photographed, provides the voice-over narration and wrote the screenplay (from a based-on-actual event novel by Michiro Maruyana translated by Younghill Kang) ... See full summary »
In late 19th century Vienna, Lena Smith, a naive peasant girl from Hungary, has a child by a corrupt young cavalry officer, and goes to work his house as a servant, hiding the truth from ... See full summary »
Josef von Sternberg
Gustav von Seyffertitz
Nick Cochran, an American in exile in Macao, has a chance to restore his name by helping capture an international crime lord. Undercover, can he mislead the bad guys and still woo the handsome singer/petty crook, Julie Benson?
Josef von Sternberg,
A cowardly young man, a bitter young woman and a helpless child live on the docks, spend their days full of ennui watching a dredge dig the same hole day in and day out, chased around by ... See full summary »
Josef von Sternberg
George K. Arthur,
A criminal known as Thunderbolt is imprisoned and facing execution. Into the next cell is placed Bob Moran, an innocent man who has been framed and who is in love with Thunderbolt's girl. ... See full summary »
Film told in flashbacks of an older man's obsession for a woman who can belong to no-one but can frustrate everyone. The backdrop is SternbergÍs surreal and fantastic Carnaval in Spain. In ... See full summary »
Josef von Sternberg
Edward Everett Horton
I am reminded of the cry of my toddler nephew when witnessing a minor mishap, a plaintive beatific "oh no!", often with his little finger raised aloft; I am reminded of this when examining this film's reputation on the IMDb, and sadly, it appears to have been seen by few people. This is not typical von Sternberg heroin, and I can only think that the few people who have seen it here were expecting such. The soul of the film is much more to do with Ernst Lubitsch. I think it does very well on that level, it's a saucy comedy. One thing that is typical of von Sternberg however, is that the movie has dream absurdity. The clan of Habsburg blue-bloods on display here have more in common with the Munsters than with any sort of historical reality.
The film is mostly a farce. The Empress Mother of the Austro-Hungarian Empire decides to marry her son Emperor Franz Josef (played with elegance by Franchot Tone) off to a relative, the princess Helena, who is a pretty little drip, seemingly permanently anaesthetised. Her sister Sissi wishes to save her from this fate and henpecks her curmudgeonly father Maximilian, Duke of Bavaria, out of the door to intercede on Helena's behalf to stop the arranged marriage.
You would not guess given the absurdly low rating of this film that it a bona fide rib-tickler. Uncredited Raymond Brown as the innkeeper of The Golden Ox is simply hilarious. Just watch him try to catch his own whistle. One thing that I like to see in a comedy is misplaced hysteria, the innkeeper's hilarious rasping, lisping, and stuttering, when he gets out of control and confused are a glory, similarly the chief of the secret police, who really appears to be afraid of his own shadow, will have you rolling on the floor as he flinches and twitches.
Sissi and Franz Josef's lovemaking is the backbone of the movie and is amusing and constantly carefree, and even raunchy (given the times).
I enjoyed seeing the corps de ballet in this film, practising in a hall, Sternberg's play of light and dark attempting to give Degas a run for his money in terms of ballet studies. There seemed almost no reason for the scene, but I'm not complaining.
This is not one of the great movies, but it is something I specifically chose as Christmas fare par excellence, and I chose well.
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